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Papal Seal/Coat of Arms?
Question from Christian on 4/20/2005:
United States

I have a couple questions relating to the heraldry surrounding the Holy Father.

o Is the Papal Seal on the "Fisherman's Ring" unique to each pope? Or does each pope have an identical seal on his ring?

o Is the Papal Seal used by the Supreme Pontiff actually the one on the ring, or does he have a separate seal he uses for official documents?

o The coat of arms that was displayed on what I believe was the Papal Seal, which was hung over the balcony at the Vatican before Benedict XVI appeared--is this unique to Benedict? If so, is it tied to Joseph Ratzinger, or strictly Benedict?

Any information on the heraldric devices used by Holy Mother Church are greatly appreciated.

Answered on 4/21/2005:

The ring that the pope wears, called the Ring of the Fisherman, traditionally has a basic design of St. Peter in a boat casting out a net. It is then augmented by the name of the pope (in this case Benedict XVI). It is not worn every day by the pope but is used for sealing papal documents. The ring is destroyed in front of the members of the College of Cardinals (as was done a few days before the conclave) by the Cardinal Camerlengo.

The coat of arms displayed at the announcement of the new pope was actualy that of Pope John Paul II. The new Holy Father will have the choice of using his own coat of arms as a bishop and cardinal (it features bears and scallop shells) or adopting a new coat of arms to inaugurate his pontificate.


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